The Somerset sea-coast, though destitute of ruggedness and grandeur, possesses undeniable charm, at least at its W. and E. extremities; but it lapses into unquestioned tameness where the sea washes the central flats. The waters of the Bristol Channel as far down as Minehead are discoloured; and, with the exception of a range of low cliffs near St Andries and Watchet and a stony foreshore at Clevedon, there are no rocks worth mentioning. Brean Down and the North Hill near Minehead are the only headlands, but notwithstanding this, the watering places of Somerset are breezy and healthy. Weston-super-Mare in particular has a high reputation for salubrity, and has long been one of the most popular seaside resorts in England.
Somerset is peculiarly deficient in large rivers, for the Avon can hardly be included amongst its belongings, since it is the dividing line between the county and Gloucestershire. The Parrett is the one stream of any moment. It is a sluggish and uninteresting bit of water, rising in Dorset, entering Somerset near Crewkerne, and flowing, when it meets the tide near Bridgwater, with a wearisomely circuitous course of some 12 m. before it mixes with the Bristol Channel. The other rivers, the Frome and Chew, which join the Avon; the Axe, which rises in Wookey Hole and enters the sea near Brean Down; the Brue and Cary, which empty themselves into the estuary of the Parrett; and the Parrett’s own tributaries, the Yeo, Ivel, and Tone, are unimportant. Exmoor is drained by the Exe and Barle, which, when united, flow southward into Devon.
Such, however, is the character of Somerset scenery that the absence of water in it is hardly noticed. From what has been said it will be seen that the county has much in it to arrest the attention of the traveller who can appreciate quiet beauty, and, as will appear, even more to appeal to one who is interested in his country’s-past, whilst upon the affection of its sons its hold is indisputable. As one of them writes:—
“Fair winds, free way, for youth
We all must share the curse of Cain:
But bring me back when youth is over
To the old crooked shire again.
Ay, bring me back in life’s declining
To the one home that’s home for me,
Where in the west the sunset shining
Goes down into the Severn sea.”
The really interesting fauna of Somerset belongs to a past age, when mammoths, elephants, and rhinoceroses, cave lions, bisons, bears, and hyaenas roamed over its surface. Their remains have been found in the caverns of Hutton, Bleadon, Banwell, and Wookey, and are preserved in Taunton Museum. Of the wild creatures which at present occur in the county, the only one which confers real distinction upon it is the red deer, which roams at large on both Exmoor and the Quantocks. Badgers are not uncommon near